‘Vowed myself to silence:’ Woman says she couldn’t cope after Edmonton attack

‘Vowed myself to silence:’ Woman says she couldn’t cope after Edmonton attack

EDMONTON — One of five women who was sexually assaulted by a former nightclub employee says she wasn’t able to talk about the attack for four years.

“I vowed myself to silence,” she said in her victim impact statement in Court of Queen’s Bench on Thursday, the second day of Matthew McKnight’s sentencing hearing.

“I did not know how to cope.”

The woman, whose name is protected by a publication ban, said she decided to go to police when she realized there were other victims.

McKnight, 33, was charged with sexually assaulting 13 women ranging in age from 17 to 22 between 2010 and 2016 in Edmonton. He pleaded not guilty but a jury convicted him on five of the 13 counts.

The woman who gave her statement Thursday said she tried to forget about the assault, which she could barely remember after being plied with alcohol by McKnight.

“I could no longer walk, form sentences or see straight,” she said. “The very last thing I remember was being so intoxicated my vision blurred.”

She said she woke up naked in what appeared to be McKnight’s bedroom and she quickly fled.

The woman told court she was horrified to hear her attacker’s defence in court was that the night had been consensual.

“I couldn’t even walk, see or talk … let alone consensually engage in sexual activity,” she said.

“To say it was consensual and these were his typical nights, he is a danger to women.”

Court has heard McKnight met most of the victims in bars and assaulted them at his apartment.

Crown prosecutor Mark Huyser-Wierenga said Wednesday that alcohol and “something else” were used in at least three of the offences in what he dubbed “drug-facilitated” sexual assaults.

Justice Doreen Sulyma has challenged the submission that evidence of drugs had been proven in court. The Crown said one of the women only had one drink, which she testified was given to her by McKnight before she blacked out.

Two of the victims told the sentencing hearing Wednesday that they have had nightmares, thoughts of suicide and anxiety since they were attacked.

Four family members, including the sister of another victim, also provided statements to the court. The fifth victim is expected to read her statement Friday.

The Crown prosecutors have recommended consecutive sentences, which would be served one after another, because each of the five offences was separate. They asked for two terms of four years, one of 4 1/2 years and two at five years — for a total of 22 1/2 years.

Defence lawyer Dino Bottos started his sentencing submissions Thursday by focusing on his client being assaulted in the Edmonton Remand Centre while he awaited bail.

He put McKnight back on the stand to testify about the assault.

“I was outside the cell and I was on the phone with my dad and (my cellmate) came into the room. He was barechested and he hung up the phone call I was on,” McKnight said. “He was agitated and called me ‘skinner’ and a rapist.”

A four-minute video from a camera in the remand centre showed McKnight being punched, falling to the ground and getting kicked multiple times by the man. There’s blood visible on the floor in the video.

McKnight said he blacked out before the man was taken away by a guard. Several other guards were shown in the video gathering around McKnight and restraining him. He was then led away by guards in handcuffs and a spit mask.

They later took him to hospital, said McKnight.

He said he’s worried for his safety when he goes to prison.

“It’s going to be a very dangerous time and I am just hoping to survive it,” said McKnight.

Bottos is to continue his sentencing submissions Friday when he’s expected to ask for a reduced sentence due to the assault.

It’s expected to be the final day of the hearing.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 9, 2020

Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press

crime

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

robbery
Rimbey RCMP investigating shooting

Police responded to a complaint of an armed robbery at the Bluffton City General Store

The influenza vaccine will be available at no cost starting Monday in Alberta. “The more that we can avoid influenza-related tests, emergency visits and hospitalizations, the stronger our system will be to support those with COVID-19 and all other health needs," says Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Hinshaw urges Albertans to get flu shot as COVID cases jump by 332

Alberta’s central zone now has 132 active COVID-19 cases

The Bellows family on vacation last year in Mexico. L-R: Angel, Ryan, Darrel, Grace and Michael. (Photo submitted)
Rimbey community rallying behind family after cancer diagnosis

Michael Bellows, 12, a ‘strong, resilient kid’ says father

Across the province, there are 2,738 active cases of COVID-19, with 18,417 recovered cases. There have been 288 deaths from the virus in Alberta since the beginning of the pandemic. (File photo)
Alberta reports 244 additional COVID-19 cases Thursday

2,738 active cases of COVID-19 in the province

(File Photo)
Batten down the hatches, a dump of snow expected Friday afternoon

Environment Canada issued a special weather statement as upwards of 10 cm of snow is expected

In this photo provided by Shannon Kiss, smoke from the CalWood Fire billows, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, as seen from Gunbarrel, Colo. (Shannon Kiss via AP)
‘First guys out:’ western Canadian air tanker fleet busy despite drop in wildfires

CEO believes wildfires have become more dangerous in recent years as people live closer to where they start

Employee Sophia Lovink shows off a bag of merchandise in Toronto on Thursday, June 11, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Canada gets C-average grade on 2nd year of cannabis legalization

Cannabis Council of Canada releases report card on federal government and legalization

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada-USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Restrictions on non-essential travel between Canada and the United States are being extended until at least Nov. 21. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
Non-essential travel restrictions at Canada-U.S. border extended to at least Nov. 21

The restrictions do not apply to those providing essential services in either country

(The Canadian Perss)
Banff wolves have lower survival rate due to hunting, trapping outside park boundary

Researchers looked at 72 radio-collared wolves in the national park from 1987 to August 2019

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Miramar Regional Park in Miramar, Fla., Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is still hopeful about the Keystone pipeline if there’s a change in government in the U.S. next month, saying Alberta has been engaging with American officials from both sides of the aisle. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Carolyn Kaster
Alberta premier says he’s still hopeful about Keystone, even if Biden elected

The Alberta government has agreed to invest about US$1.1 billion as equity in the project

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam takes part during a press conference during the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. As parts of Canada face a new round of COVID-19-related restrictions, Canada’s chief public health officer is urging Canadians to continue making a “collective effort” to tackle the pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Chief public health officer calls for continued ‘collective effort’ against COVID-19

Canada continues to climb toward the 200,000 mark for COVID-19 cases

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML
Officer with Prince Albert Police tests positive for COVID-19, force says

Police co-operating with the provincial health authority’s efforts to trace the officer’s contacts

Smoke haze from forest fires burning in Alberta and British Columbia hangs over Banff, Alta., in Banff National Park, Friday, July 21, 2017. Visitors to Banff National Park in Alberta will soon have to reserve a spot for a shuttle bus to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Banff wolves have lower survival rate due to hunting, trapping outside park boundary

Study shows grey wolves in Banff National Park don’t live much longer than those elsewhere in Alberta

Black Press file photo
Fire destroys lobster pound in Nova Scotia, police say man in hospital with injuries

RCMP say a man is in hospital with life threatening injuries

Most Read